“How JR has been instrumental in bringing a level playing field to #stem education in select few government schools in Bengaluru”

Just Robotics is an Edu-Tech firm, based out of Bengaluru. We’ve 2 flagship programs under our Education vertical where-in we teach kids how to build ‘robots’ and this in-turn will help them comprehend #stem (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) a little better than most textbooks out there, simply because they learn by ‘doing’ and applying the concepts and more importantly see them in action. It’s hard to forget when you learn so, and even better is the sheer amount of fun it is to learn this way.

Last year, we tied up with Akshaya Patra’s ‘Give Every Dream A Chance’ Project and we’ve been able to work with 5 government schools since last July (18th, 2018 to be precise), we’ve about, 25–30 Students (in each school), students are selected from 5–6th Standard, because we want them for a period of 3 years, owing to the fact that we’ve that many modules;

– Mechanical

– Electronics

– Programming

Mechanical (Module) involves most of the Mechanical Concepts like:

– Building

– Assembling

– (Functionalities, Principles of) nuts and bolts

– How to use tools

– How motors work

– Chassis

And how do you put (all of) them together to form one cohesive, functional unit.

We ideally begin with Module 1, in some schools we’ve students from 5th grade and in some 6thgrade and in some (rarer) cases even 7th grade students, dependent on their capabilities and we do so, primarily to ensure they finish the entire modules (that we offer) by the time they leave the school.

And our program will culminate in the 3rd year, by which we’ll be able to see a visible impact upon the said students. And effectively by the end of our program, they should be reasonably good with understanding of some of the basic concepts of #stem, in terms of identifying and being able to apply them.

Some of the projects that we’ve completed last year:

– Hydraulic Based Experiment(s)

– BO-Biped

– DPDT Remote Controlled Robot

This year we’ve started with sensors, and ergo they’ll be introduced to Electronics. And ergo they’ll be able to build robots with sensors, and that would invariably mean building semi-autonomous ‘robots’

Next year, it’d be programming. We teach the very basics of C language, and Adruino programming.

In government schools the learning curve is a little more steep vis-à-vis the private schools, simply because the private school kids have a little more exposure and their curriculum is such that; 6thgrade students from CBSE schools learn HTML but sadly government school kids haven’t even come across a computer, let alone programming, therefore, there’s an awareness and education that happens owing to our module.

Ergo, we’ve to bring in a graphical interface programming, where-in you use drag and drop box(es)/blocks on which you say for example ‘orange block is used to make a decision. A green block is used to make an action, a blue block is where one needs to take an input.’ So, there are things that you colour code and using that, you program.

For example, you can program using your own language, wherein if a sensor detects an obstacle, then, do this, so that ‘if’ is replaced with a red block, and a sensor is replaced with a blue block, and then you add on/pile on, connect them altogether and that’s basically the premise for your programming, essentially that’s what programming is all about.

And this we will be introducing to them from this academic year. There are a few challenges we’ll be encountering owing to the lack of computer education in government school and their curriculum, and one of them will be that of language; since some classes we completely switch to Kannada in order improve comprehension amongst the students, especially in schools situated on the outskirts of Bengaluru, because their medium of instruction is essentially in Kannada. So few words to them will sound like jargons that they can’t decipher or comprehend.

For example when you say ‘sensor’ they don’t know what you’re saying/talking about. And there’s yet another learning curve here, since we don’t translate all the words to Kannada.

If we’d have to be very honest with our experience of teaching at government schools since last year, then the term ‘eye opener’ seems to be very apt for us. Because the sheer impact we’ve been able to see owing to our curriculum is joyful in no uncertain terms, we were also a tad bit skeptical when we took up the project because this is a whole new world to us and it was a challenge in every bit of the word, more so because we’ve been teaching robotics for the last 7–8 years but only at private schools/institution and it was a routine that we’d grown accustomed to.

Having said that, kids here (at government schools) are super enthusiastic about the ‘robotics class’, in fact so much so that, when on some rare occasion you’re late by 5 minutes, you’ll see kids waiting for you at the gates, “Sir has not come, what happened, this week was supposed to be robotics classes”

20- 24 sessions a year, roughly translating to about 1 hour a week, so whatever happens outside of this ambit is owing to their time and effort. Since every school has kits that’s shared by 2/3 students, roughly translating to about 10–15 kits to each school which they’ve an access to. Last year we’d kids exploring the contents of the kits with the likes of a syringe, pipes that they bought, and then proceeded to design and build a hydraulic crane, all on their own!

Attendance has gravely improved, so much so that if we see a kid having missed a class or two, we’ve to nudge him/her a little saying, “if you miss another class than your slot will be taken up by someone else” and invariably the said kid will be present in the next class, come rain or shine.

Better understanding of some of the core concepts that govern #stem is another thing that we get to witness first hand; for example ‘speed, motion, distance and the likes’ are something that a 9thgrade student will be adept with, but we were surprised to see some of the students being able to tie it back to their robotics’ class, in the sense that one needs to increase the circumference of the tyre to increase the distance travelled, one rotation equals so much distance, and then multiply that to beget the acceleration, and divide the said distance by time to get the speed. So on and so forth and this makes us believe in our program that much more.

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